Sometimes less is more… But not usually when you’re cut a check to turn in a prestigious job!
In 2021, Danish artist Jens Haaning (that’s not him above btw, that’s Diego Luna) was commissioned to create a new piece for Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, and that he did! Well, sort of…
The museum put on an exhibition that was intended to portray labor conditions and salary in Denmark and Austria. The museum thought Jens would be the perfect guy for the job, as he’d previously featured a bank note representing average salaries in one of his works of art. It sounds like they pretty much wanted him to replicate that for them. For the gig, they provided him with the bank notes — and paid him the equivalent of about $84,000 to do the job… However, he had his own idea for the project.
Instead of turning in what they had in mind, Jens submitted two completely BLANK canvases — like, not a DROP of paint or anything to be seen — and simply titled them:
“Take the Money and Run”
We’re sorry, WHAT?? As a conceptual piece, it’s actually pretty funny. It’s literally a meta piece about a worker (aka HIM) stealing money from an employer!
At the time, Jens explained his decision to Danish broadcaster DR:
“The artwork is that I have taken the money. I encourage others who have just as miserable working conditions as I to do the same. If they are being asked to give money to go to work, then take the money and run.”
Ha! We guess when the museum hired him, they weren’t necessarily thinking of themselves as part of the labor industry that would be free game to criticize! LOLz!
We’ve gotta give him credit — the idea was definitely there. F**k the man, right??
However, the fun quickly came to a screeching halt, as KMOMA filed legal petitions to get Jens to repay the lump sum of cash — and a decision has finally been made two years after the kerfuffle. On Monday, a Copenhagen court ordered Jens to return ALL of the money — minus the artist’s fee and cost of mounting the work (and of paint, we guess, since that cost was zero) — so about $70,600, plus another $11,000 in legal fees. Jens told DR the same day:
“I am shocked, but at the same time it is exactly what I have imagined.”
Museum director Lasse Andersson told BBC that at the time of the bamboozlement, he honestly just couldn’t help but laugh:
“He stirred up my curatorial staff and he also stirred me up a bit, but I also had a laugh because it was really humoristic.”
The director ultimately DID display the “art” in the exhibit — but says he had to move forward with legalities, as it put him in an “unmanageable situation.”
Ha! At least they still got some use out of the project, right?! Though tbh if he displayed it and people came to see it, you’d think at least some of that money should have stayed in Haaning’s pocket.
What do YOU think of this wild story, Perezcious readers?? Let us know in the comments down below!
[Image via Katy Perry/YouTube]